LTE: UGBC Executives Deserve Their Stipends
In Response To "The Wrong Students Get The Stipends" By Austin Tedesco, First Published On 9/23/13
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 17:09
I had debated a number of different ways of starting this letter. Maybe adding to the “stipend” hypothetical myself and discussing a new “comedy group,” the “Journos” who have their own unique and expensive retreats, or maybe cracking a joke that some of the shows that the “Margos” have put on recently haven’t been all that entertaining. Such comments however, would prove to be childish, and ultimately detract from the point I am looking to make. With that in mind, I start with a compliment. Austin Tedesco has written for The Heights for three of my five combined years at Boston College and Boston College Law School. Few writers, over the course of my time here, have been so consistently poignant and on-target as Austin. With his tenacity in following a story and pull-no-punches approach to writing, he has done more than his fair share in shedding light on the state of BC Athletics. Furthermore, I would be willing to go so far to say that, over his time here, few students, if any (myself included), have done as much as he in helping to shape how the Athletics department interacts with students. His work on ticket prices, fan attendance, and numerous other athletic issues, have resulted in such initiatives as the Gold Pass, as well as several of the other ways in which athletics has “stepped up” its approach to students. It is with this full acknowledgement and respect for Austin and his work that I whole heartedly disagree with the sentiments in his column “The Wrong Students are Getting the Stipends.”
The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), like any organization, has its fair share of faults. It frequently has bloated membership numbers, doesn’t always do the best job of communicating all that it does for the student body, and runs the risk, at times, of focusing on minutiae as opposed to important issues. It is, on the whole, an organization that receives, and deserves, criticism. A government, student or otherwise, must answer to the criticism and concerns of the people it is meant to serve. The UGBC is no exception to this rule. However, to criticize it via some vain comparison to Athletics at BC, or Athletics in general, ultimately causes this column to miss its target.
My senior year at BC, instead of hitting the bars every night (though I did get out my fair share) I dedicated my time to working for my fellow student via UGBC. The hours I put in were horrendous, between meetings, making presentations, phone calls to make sure events were getting run on time, etc. I put this time in because I wanted to be the best President that I could be for my fellow undergraduates. There is certainly more I wish I could have done, but overall, I am proud of the work that I, and much more importantly the members of my organization, put in. Given the financial constraints I was already operating under (only able to attend BC thanks to financial aid), the fact that I stayed and worked over the summer prepping UGBC for the upcoming year (without housing being paid for), and the fact that there were enough nights that I fell asleep in the President’s cubicle that I began to keep a pillow and toiletry bag there, I really have no shame in saying that I think I earned the stipend I received. The concern of the article that there are equally deserving students who should receive money ignores the fact that these vice-presidents within UGBC frequently are among the students who, until this year, went unjustly uncompensated. My tenure as President would have been nothing if it weren’t for the equally grueling hours that my fellow UGBCers put in to ensure that the best product was being put out for BC students. I readily acknowledge that even more students should be paid given the work that they do on campus. Great organizations like Eagle EMS, the various dance groups, the Quality of Student Life Committee, and many more all do lots to contribute to the state of the BC campus. I think the logic of the column is deeply flawed in suggesting that the way to show that more students deserve to be paid is by saying that those that do are unworthy.
My final quibble with the article is the way it characterizes the work that the UGBC has done and does. I would hardly call an organization that sold out every “major” event the year before, had over 40+ events from the BC 2 Boston department sell out as well, and threw a free concert by an artist whose album has since gone septuple platinum “rooted in the distant past.” Nor would I call that same organization “irrelevant to the present” when it was crucial to reworking the core curriculum, has the only solid ties for student input to the administration, and contains the only two students who regularly meet with the board of trustees. The UGBC is irrelevant to the present in the same way that the NCAA is irrelevant to college sports, in that it’s not. Offhand comments regarding not generating a profit from events and belittling the goal behind “streamlining” illustrate a misunderstanding of how the UGBC operates, not a solid criticism of its efforts.
As I have said, the UGBC should, inherently, have its critics. One of the most fervent critics should come from the “fourth estate,” media publications such as the Heights. However, such criticism loses its luster when it makes broad generalizations, refuses to acknowledge how the organization actually operates, and puts blinders up to any positive work that has been done. I find a small bit of hypocrisy in criticism being laid down from an editor of The Heights, when the newspaper itself refused to take endorse a candidate in the past election. Such criticism is seemingly meant to be scathing and groundbreaking, when instead it comes across as elitist and impractical.